It turns out that what readers of the (online) New York Times looked at more than anything else in 2013 was actually a series of maps. An interactive webpage that generated maps when people responded to a series of dialect prompts. Why so popular? People like to answer simple, online, multiple-choice questions, especially about themselves. People like to reminisce about their childhood places, where their pronunciations of words were first fixed. People needed a distraction from the end-of-the-year activities in chaotic December. People had more unstructured and free time to hang out online over the holidays.
It doesn’t really matter why. I just like the way the application’s developers describe the statistical patterns, and the way that geography and language are naturally linked. And I love every chance available for people to become aware of geographic patterns.